Bunny Swan performs at Soldotna Creek Park on July 3, 2019 as part of the Levitt Amp Soldotna Music Series. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Bunny Swan performs at Soldotna Creek Park on July 3, 2019 as part of the Levitt Amp Soldotna Music Series. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna planning for summer events

City Manager Stephanie Queen said she was repealing a “large gathering” policy implemented last year

The City of Soldotna is taking steps to bring back large community events at city parks this summer.

In a March 3 memo from Soldotna City Manager Stephanie Queen to the Soldotna City Council, she said that she repealed the city’s “large event policy” and that the city has started planning for park activities this summer.

That policy, which the city council approved last June, closed city parks to live music performances, the use of stage facilities for performances, beer and wine gardens and attractions intended for children in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also outlined specific guidelines for events: small gatherings and private events were limited to 50 people; public and private organized activities were limited to 50-250 people. Larger community events required individual review and mitigation planning with city staff.

Among the events the city plans to see return this summer are Levitt AMP Soldotna Music Series, including live music and a beer garden, and events from the Soldotna Chamber of Commerce and Wednesday Market. Queen said that Soldotna Parks and Recreation is actively planning with both groups on event layout, so that more space can be provided for people attending the concert amid vendors and food trucks.

COVID mitigation protocols will still be implemented, but Queen said they are working with staff at each event, as opposed to having blanket guidelines.

Queen also noted that the new protocols are in line with steps taken at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex, which the city council recently voted to relax so the Kenai River Brown Bears could resume games.

“As you know, vaccination efforts are well underway and we have seen case counts in the community remain below the ‘high risk’ threshold for some time,” Queen wrote. “The Council recently approved an increase in spectator capacity at the Sports Center for hockey games beginning the end of March, and we feel that resuming outdoor events this summer is in line with our community’s recovery and the current level of risk.”

The central peninsula had reported just 39 new COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days as of Monday, a notable decrease from late last year, when cases were surging in the state. Alaska also continues to lead the nation in vaccine rollout. The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ Vaccine Monitoring Dashboard reported Monday that about 23.1% of the state’s population had received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. As of Monday, 11,652 of 47,102 borough residents 16 and older — about 24.7% — had received at least one dose.

More information about COVID-19 mitigation in Soldotna can be found at soldotna.org.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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